Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens has been one of the hottest featured backs in fantasy football for years. Going into last season, there was some concern that he was starting to put on high mileage with near 350 touches over the last two years. As a result, the Ravens picked Bernard Pierce in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft to help shoulder some of the carries. Still, for most of last season he wasn’t seen as a viable threat to vulture significant touches.
Late in the year, though, we began to see Pierce put up some good numbers and even split reps at times. Pierce put up some good numbers in garbage time at the end of the season and had a decent showing during the NFL playoffs.
Pierce’s draft value for 2013 shot up the boards and people started using words like “Sleeper” and “Handcuff” in the same breath as Rice.
Suddenly, last week Rice suffered a hip pointer injury that knocked him out of the game and Pierce took over seamlessly to put up a nice performance. Even though Rice’s injury reportedly doesn’t have any structural damage, this is the kind of injury where it’s wise not to rush your featured back into action.
Pierce and Rice both ran a 4.4 in the 40 and Vonta Leach will rip open the same holes. Add to this the bonus factor that Pierce is a slightly larger and thus has more of a goalline presence than Rice, he could become a permanent feature in a Ravens offense that needs to lean on the running game to survive its passing woes.
If you have Rice, you should already have Pierce. If you don’t have him, I hope for your sake you’ve got a high waiver number. Even if you don’t own Rice and Pierce is available, you should grab him. He’s the perfect kind of trade bait you can dangle in front of a Ray Rice owner, or plug into your flex spot for the next couple of weeks.
Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for RantSports.com.